Which Biomaterials can be used to enhance immunotherapy?

Biomaterials are synthesized polymers generated by material scientists, and they hold immense potential in advancing immunotherapeutic delivery systems, including liposomes, microneedles, polymer nanoparticles and microparticles, polymer scaffolds, and self-assembled particles.1 Liposomes are composed of lipids arranged to form a bilayer between the internal hydrophilic compartment and an external hydrophobic region. They form sphere-like micelles which can deliver a cargo payload in the form of drugs or genetic material. They are biocompatible as they can easily integrate into the lipid layers of cells. Microparticles and nanoparticles work in a similar capacity as liposomes but have the added advantage of being composed of polymers. These polymers allow a more refined release of cargo via slower degradation. They can also be modified on the surface to target ligands on cells. Microneedles are a series of fine needles that can be coated with drugs or other cargo to target skin-resident cells using a pain-free delivery system. This has added benefits compared to standard topical applications, including more controlled release of the agent. Polymer scaffolds are designed to maximize cargo encapsulation while remaining functional. Finally, self-assembling particles are capable of the automatic assembly after being introduced into the body. They employ rational and straightforward designs capable of drawing immune signals for use in immunotherapy. Biomaterials can replace the need for multiple vaccinations through controlled release of antigens over time. Several pre-clinical studies have investigated biomaterial immunotherapy for use in transplantation, diabetes, allergies, multiple sclerosis, immune tolerance, cancer, and infectious diseases. For additional information on immunotherapy please visit our resource center.

1. M.L. Bookstaver et al, "Improving Vaccine and Immunotherapy Design Using Biomaterials," Trends Immunol 39(2): 135-150, 2018.